First Grad School Lesson – I’m old.

I was so beat last night by the time I got home, I was practically incoherent. Yesterday was graduate student orientation today. I’m here again today for what is essentially departmental orientation.

I’m skipping the convocation this morning. I’m on campus, but I decided to let my phone charge (have no idea why it’s not charging in the car), use my Daily Office app and do the morning prayers, journal, and try again to look through all the school materials and make some semblance of a plan. I consider the Global Leadership Summit my convocation; any talk of time management, professionalism, academic priorities freaks me out anyway. It’s like Dr. Halliburton, DDS telling you this is gonna hurt– a lot. She can say it’s going to hurt but until your nerve touches the end of her drill tip, you will have no idea how much. I get it. This is going to be hard. Just give me the info I need – syllabi, books, and a work schedule – I will figure it out.

But honestly, I’m exhausted and sore. I’m not going anywhere until I absolutely need to do so.

So, back to yesterday. I arrived early and decided to take care of some business.

WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. TEST THEM. WALK A MILE IN THEM. The same shoes I normally work at work without problem created blisters on my feet by 10 am.

First stop: bookstore. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any items to pick up and I needed to return a purchase made on a previous trip. I decided just to check the books in my department. WHOA!!! What do you mean there’s a new edition of one of my textbooks. THIS DOES NOT MATCH WHAT YOU HAVE ONLINE. I’ve already purchased what is showing online from a third party vendor. There aren’t any used ones because this is a brand new edition. It’s only $10 more to buy it than rent it. FINE, I’ll take it. That will be $200. To add insult to injury, the work-study student taking my plastic advised me to tell my student that I could return it the first week of class. MY STUDENT??? She thought I was a parent!!!

Then it hit me. I am older than my mom was when she sent me off to college the first time.


Second stop: Technology Center. I was having a few issues with my Apple Pencil. They didn’t know that much more than I did. However, I did get info on some possible software I might need, purchased a much needed Adobe keyboard overlay, and figured out that I need to come in again next week with my laptop and iPad for assistance. They can get the software downloaded, installed, and set up faster than I can. Things were going fine until I asked the student employee to write down the info she just told me. She thought I was a professor.

Then it hit me. I’m old enough to have taught these kids when I briefly worked as a substitute teacher.


By that time, it was time to head back to the orientation venue and I was hobbling along. So, I get to the building and there are stairs.

I get settled in and the sessions are similar to what I’ve seen online except — there’s a campus tour. No thanks – I’ve already been to most of the buildings anyway – if only to go to the bathroom.

I felt every little rock in the sidewalk substrate on the way to the breakout sessions.
The break out sessions were definitely worth the pain. I met a fellow grad student with whom I connected earlier this year. I hope she and I will be fast friends and slow walking partners. There was one other student around our ag and a commuter to boot. Someone asked a question about a dress code. The faculty advisor’s response was not to show up at work in pajama pants.

Then it hit me. I am old. I do not own a pair of pajama pants that are even Wal-mart worthy. I would never think of wearing them to a class or even work. And I worried that my “union hall” fashion sense would be an issue. Do people really need to be told this? Evidently, yes.

I skipped the mixer. Yes, I know – it’s a bonding and networking opportunity.
Honestly, after the day I had, I just wanted to shuffle to my car and go home. The only bonding I wanted to do was with my kids (it’s my “long” week on the custody rotation) and the only network I was interested in was NBC (Go USA!).

Today, I’m clothed in slacks and a top and shod in wide-width walkers that will never coordinate with anything. They didn’t admit me to this fine learning institution for my fashion sense anyway. At least it’s not PJ pants and flip flops. I may have to make allowances for being old, but self-respect is ageless.


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